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Ellen Pashley

About this Poet:
Ellen Pashley resides in Edmonton, Alberta and wants to use her Criminal Justice degree to work towards restorative justice, especially with youth. Ellen loves to play soccer and travel to countries with weather warmer than Alberta.

About this Poem:
I want to work with youth who are in the criminal justice system and have a stance of restorative justice instead of mere punishment. However, that was challenged last summer when my husband was assaulted by a group of young men. He was stabbed seven times, including in the chest; close to his heart, and in his back; near a kidney and millimeters from his spinal chord. His lung collapsed and immediate surgery saved his life. This poem covers several weeks at church while I struggled to take communion and accept Christ's grace, which demands that I forgive my enemies. One of the biggest struggles in my journey of forgiveness was that my husband would forever have scars on his body—like constant reminders of event that changed our lives. Christ reminded me that He also kept his scars, through choice, and lovingly led me to forgive the men who stabbed my husband. I still believe, but now with more conviction, in restorative justice for offenders.

Whenever you take this cup

Tiny glass weighs in my hand of endless glitter-rubied grace
and chastises me in heaven's voices.
I could rest in the anger and pain
more than the crystal-etched promises
but for the heavy rose-blood cup.
Glistens between thumb rushes against me
with the awful word

First taste left me exhausted
with sweet,
sweaty dancing
but this leaves my back in shreds
and feet slow
to question if my words ever penetrate past,
or simply die
between this praise-dappled arch-way and that shadowed jail.

Juice warms in my fingers as I sense it's length,
falter at its color.
Shining red against the world, speaks of heaven and life
between my fingers.
Admired the easy red-lettered words, but these same are cruel
in breathless,
chested spurts that I

Knowing the silky-white scars will always fleck chest
and back.
Sirens nearly drown
out your soft,
uncompromising words. Fall under pews
to dusty crimson carpet
in fevered anger, mistaken as prayer.

Refuse to quiet, instead you scream out
in blood that shakes
forces searing tears in my mouth.
You never healed
the holes in your hands

And so,
I breathe,
and breathe.
For light
to brighten the air around me.
Humming, sparks, anything
of the tiniest change.
Nothing shifted, but the constant rhythm
of your scars compels me.

and lips breathe out
those stumbled, fructose-sour
words of blessing.
spoon of grape-flavored life.

Copyright ©2011 by Ellen Pashley